Martin’s Boat Movie Honors Conservationist Martin Litton

The late conservationist and whitewater rafting pioneer Martin Litton, who died in 2014 at age 97, is fondly remembered in a new movie by the award-winning photographer and filmmaker Pete McBride. The movie, titled Martin’s Boat, focuses on Litton’s efforts to preserve the natural beauty of the Grand Canyon and on a two-week trip through the canyon in a dory (a small flat-bottomed boat) built in Litton’s honor. Litton pioneered the use of whitewater dories on the Colorado River in the 1960s, naming the boats after wild places that had been harmed or destroyed by human activities.

Litton won many conservation battles during his long life, including, in the 1950s, helping to block the construction of two dams that would have flooded much of the canyon’s most popular whitewater run. Litton encouraged the Sierra Club to make an aggressive, and ultimately successful, fight to stop those dams. Although Litton’s work contributed greatly to the Grand Canyon’s preservation, new threats have continued to emerge to this amazing natural wonder, primarily through proposed and ongoing development and mining activities. A proposed new tram at the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers would carry as many as 10,000 visitors per day to the canyon floor. Proposed developments along the canyon’s rim would remove water from aquifers, threatening to deplete the water sources of canyon springs. Ongoing uranium mining operations continue to pose environmental threats to the greater canyon region.

Filmmaker Pete McBride is a Colorado native who has photographed and filmed the natural world in more than 70 countries over almost two decades. He has performed assignments for the Society, Smithsonian Institution, The Nature Conservancy, and other institutions and publications. He was named one of the top five water photographers in the United States by American Photo Magazine and a “freshwater hero” by the Society.

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More information about Martin’s Boat, including the official trailer, can be seen at: